A Hum of Peace

By Michael Ray


On the afternoon of Saturday March 17, Camera Obscura Art Lab at 1450 Ocean hosted an “Accordion Fold Book + Pockets” workshop led by artist-in-residence Debra Disman. Participants of the workshop learned the step-by-step process of how-to create concertina books by using a combination of hand tools, glues, papers, boards, and ribbons. Disman stated that in using “the form of the book, you can teach anything.”

The participants of the workshop worked with a hum of peace, as they pieced together the components of their books. Susan Shankin, a graphic designer and Venice resident attended the workshop with her sister Denis Shankin. “I started planning the look of my book last week” said Susan Sharking as she lifted her book from the cutting mat and unfolded it – like an accordion – to display the ocean themed collage that filled the pages.

Gayle Byock, who had also attended previous workshops at Camera Obscura, cheerfully commented that she was making two concertina books for her grandsons, one red and the other orange. “Their favorite colors” she stated. Byock, drove from the Pacific Palisades to attend Disman’s workshop.

In the adjacent room, fellow artist-in-residence Huong Nguyen was setting up for her workshop which took place after Disman’s. Nguyen stated that, “it is hard not to be influenced by Debra, we share the same workspace. We use some of the same materials [paper, adhesives, and hand-tools] in our projects, but in very different ways.”

As the workshop came to a close, Disman highlighted some of the previously completed books, “we use an assortment of drawing papers and paperboards, including railroad board paper as well as with ribbons for decoration, and bone folders to help make crisp folds.” She then said that aside from cave paintings and scrolls, the concertina or fold book is “one of the oldest book formats.”

Disman concludes her artist residency in April at which point the “Big Beach Book” that she has been working on will be on display, it stands at six feet and opens to nearly 30 feet.

For more information about Camera Obscura Art Lab at 1450 Ocean visit www.smgov.net/Departments/CCS.

Denis Shankin and Ruth Michaelson swap stories while making their books.






Audrey Kopp and Gayle Byock place the finishing touches on their books.






Photos: Michael Ray.